EP Premiere: The Honey & Salt of Terrible Sons’ ‘With Feathers’ Explores the Weight of the Soul

Terrible Sons © Stefan Roberts
Terrible Sons’ EP ‘With Feathers’ is an enticing exploration of opposites that’ll give gravitas to your own life.
Stream: ‘With Feathers’ EP – Terrible Sons

Hope is the beautiful driver, and no hope is the loneliness of being left on the side of the road.

Art is usually a reflection of our surroundings, a way to deal with our current situations—whether good or bad. Great artists capture something so personal that it becomes universal in its emotional reach, striking a chord within the listener who has either experienced something similar or can at least sympathize with the notion. Even the seemingly mundane, small acts of daily life, when told in the right way, can show us something about the artist and therefore ourselves. When this is done well, as with Terrible Sons’s newest EP, we come away not just entertained but with a deeper understanding of our own worlds.

With Feathers EP - Terrible Sons

With Feathers EP – Terrible Sons

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Terrible Sons’ latest EP With Feathers, out July 26th via Nettwerk Records. A husband and wife duo — Matthew and Lauren Barus — from New Zealand, Terrible Sons’ latest EP offers a hopeful message and a lesson in contrasts. From the way their voices play off one another—his deep, slightly gravelly voice underlies her airy voice so well at times it sounds like a whole sunset at once—to the gentle pianos interactions with the percussive guitar, the pull of opposites are sonically breathtaking. Never jarring, they play off each other to create a sound that glides effortlessly through your speakers—like a Fleetwood Mac bop redone for the avocado toast generation.

These differences come from their musical background, as Matt earned his chops supporting Blondie and The Pretenders with rock band The Dukes while Lauren was attending jazz school and supporting Stevie Wonder and Lionel Ritchie. Distilling their partnership into as simple phrase as she can, Lauren explains that “while Matt would chase the unexpected, I would probably chase the things that flow.”

But the contrasts don’t just stop with the music. Lyrically the album explores the difficulties of chasing artistic dreams while having children, of living in an intentional community while still taking care of yourself, of finding that middle ground without losing yourself — all these dualities result in a sound of sadness and constant hope.

To make music and have it available for people we know, let alone those we don’t know, is the forever buzz for us.

Terrible Sons © Stefan Roberts

Terrible Sons © Stefan Roberts

With Feathers explores this idea of hope in all its forms — fleeting, soaring, and non-existing. While relationships, dreams and parenthood also run through the piece, hope is the dominant idea, even influencing the title: “We called it With Feathers because there’s that Emily Dickinson poem, ‘hope is the thing with feathers’” said Matt. “We like that idea of hope being light, flying away from it or flying to it.” Lauren adds one more to her husband’s list: “Flying despite it.”

This, and the strength and vulnerability it takes to flap your wings against the wind, become the dimension behind the lyrics on a track like “Ruffle”: “This song is a permission song, to go do what you love, even though it may mean I’ll be less involved in your life. I don’t actually know what I really think of that…it feels like a romantic response to something less than ideal.”

Pining for you.
Wherever you go
Ruffle up the waters
But when you’re home.
Lay your eyes on me.
In fevered dreams the preacher proclaims
Please don’t wait for tomorrow

The duo have created something so intimate that certain moments feel like you’re sat in the corner of their living room watching the biggest heart-to-hearts and the smallest spats. The obvious closeness and trust between the two seems to serves as another instrument. This quiet, intimate feeling comes from two places—one personal and one practical. At its core the EP is a couple stealing precious moments away from parenthood, community living and the chaos of day-to-day life to enjoy their passion with the person they love most. The specialness of this shines through in every note, leaving the listener with a warm fuzzy feeling.

The practical reason? ““It was made like that because I recorded it all late at night and I didn’t want to wake anyone,” says Matt.

Take “Makes You Run” for example. A song we can all relate to, the gentle patter hides the obvious panic behind the lyrics. “This song is about fleeing, that basic response you have when a situation around you makes you feel desperate and out of your control and you want so badly to be anywhere else but where you are”, the duo offer.

And I sit within a darkness
Feeling overcome
I just cant handle them
Once I had love and I had heaps to give
But I need sleep to be myself
To be on top of this

This late night sneaking was only a part of the writing process however. “We often battle which I think is a good thing,” says Lauren. “One of us will come with the idea for a song and the other has the editing input and that’s been a really precious relationship to discover.” She continues, “Prior to that, I never had someone close enough to operate as that editor and it’s a delicate role. I trust him and at the end, we’re either arguing to keep an idea because it’s the better idea or we’re finding a better idea through the process of that conversation.”

This trust and intimacy shows through on every track. The two clearly love what they do as much as each other and being able to combine the two is cathartic and passion-filled. With Feathers is a beautiful EP that carries a message of how to compromise to do what you love, of never losing hope, and of having someone to lean on in case you do.

It’s art we can all learn from.

Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Terrible Sons’ With Feathers EP with Atwood Magazine as the band go track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their latest record!

Stream: ‘With Feathers’ EP – Terrible Sons

:: Inside With Feathers ::

With Feathers EP - Terrible Sons

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Hold Fire

Hold Fire is talking about an argument and the plea to wait in the grey, the area that is neither black nor white. It’s looking at wrestling with being uncomfortable, peacefully, and letting it rest with you, dwelling in it, instead of letting rip with aggressive responses.

It Makes You Run

This song is about fleeing, that basic response you have when a situation around you makes you feel desperate and out of your control and you want so badly to be anywhere else but where you are….


I think this song is a plea to a lover – hey look, I can get stuck in the way I’ve always done things, the way I respond that I thought worked but just hurts others, and I don’t know how much I can move on from how I am with you… but I want to because I don’t want to drive you away.


This song is a permission song, to go do what you love, even though it may mean I’ll be less involved in your life. I don’t actually know what I really think of that…it feels like a romantic response to something less than ideal.

Rolling Thunder

About growing up without an anchor, without a place of safety. Maybe it’s a bit of a rescue song, of someone wanting to do something to fill that need…it could be that there’s a sad sense that someone has to go as far down as they can before you can come back to face and deal with that abandonment. It’s a sad song that wants to look up.

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With Feathers EP - Terrible Sons

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Oliver Crook

Oliver Crook is a Canada-based journalist who has been playing guitar and deciphering lyrics since he first heard Sum 41’s “Fat Lip” blasting through his older brother’s bedroom walls. Although his taste has (somewhat) developed since then, his passion is just as strong as ever. When not writing about music, he can be found drinking too much coffee, complaining about the finickiness of avocados, and being disappointed by all of his favourite sports teams.